Psittacosaurus (Funrise)

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This is the third ‘first’ for the Dinosaur Toy Blog this week. Having earlier cast our eye over Wenno and Timpo toys, this next review is prompted by a discussion on the Dinotoyforum about Funrise. Funrise were founded in 1987 and still seem to be going strong today (, although dinosaurs apparently left their repertoire a long time ago. This probably explains why they have been overlooked here until now. There is a bit of a bias for the recent on the Dinotoyblog.

I’ve gathered some information about the history of Funrise dinosaurs from photos of boxes being sold on Ebay. The Funrise “Authentic Dinosaur Collection” was being packaged and distributed by 1988 and the early wave consisted of eight figures. All eight species were the usual suspects, but by 1991, six more figures had been added to the line to bring the final tally to 14. These later additions included some more unusual species choices including Protoceratops and Corythosaurus. Today, I’m looking at another one of the later more obscure Funrise figures, the Psittacosaurus. But before we do…

By 1993, a different series of Funrise dinosaur toys were being packaged under the name “Jurassic Age Dinosaur Skeleton Collection”. Each one of these skeletons, 12 in total, was  packaged as a pair with a fleshed out representation of the same species. These later fleshed out restorations are different from the “Authentic Dinosaur Collection” models and bear a striking similarity to UKRD figures (specifically, the UKRD line distributed by the Boley Company according to Dinosaur Collector Site A). The similarity in the examples I found on Ebay is so striking that they look literally like a UKRD toys in Funrise packaging, so, while Funrise are not to be confused with UKRD, I suspect there was some connection between the two in the early 1990s. Perhaps Funrise acquired the UKRD moulds at that time. Does anyone know?

Now, to the figure in question. Since the Psittacosaurus was one of the later releases I gather it is one of the rarer toys. The species name is not printed on the toy and the stamp on its underside reads “©FUNRISE 1990 MADE IN CHINA K”. The “K” presumably means this toy is number 11 in the series of 14. My memory is hazy but I think this figure came as a pair in a blister pack on cardboard backing with another species. The only other Funrise dinosaur in my collection is a Dimetrodon, so I think these two were probably packaged together.

These days Psittacosaurus is widely regarded as one of the dinosaurs we know the most about. In 1990 that was not the case. That was before tail bristles; before we had a handle on Psittacosaurus skin colour, pattern, and texture; in short, it was before Bob Nicholls created the “most accurate dinosaur depiction ever“. Actually, before 1990 few toy companies made Psittacosaurus toys. This toy is predated by a Starlux Psittacosaurus but other than that I can’t think of any others. So, let’s not be too harsh on it, okay?

Its hooked parrot-like beak is distinctive, but any similarities to the real creature known as Psittacosaurus as we understand it today end there. It would be boring and time consuming to list all the inaccuracies, so I won’t go into detail. The pose is noteworthy because it is standing bolt upright, arms outstretched and engaged in a convincing zombie impersonation. There is some pleasing fluidity to the posture too: the legs are staggered into a stride and the tail and head swerve to the sides.

Its drooping bunny hands have four long fingers: three long ones and a slightly shorter digit on the inside. The feet, too, have four toes. It is impressive that they got the numbers right, at least. The skin is cracked into an irregular mosaic more evocative of a dried up lake bed than dinosaur skin. The colour is countershaded lavender blue. It was the trend in those days for simple two shade colourations, vivid on the top and pale below. A splurge of white and a black dot has been aimed at each eye.

This Psittacosaurus toy has a rather snooty expression tinged with indifference (or is it misery?). It seems to be missing a monocle but, nevertheless, would make for a great British butler or Victorian headmaster. Or, to quote Halichoeres from the Dinosaur Toy Forum “it’s adorable, even though it looks like it has just smelled something slightly offensive.”

I was about ten years old when I got this toy. I thought it was the ‘bee’s knees’ at the time and, while I know it is just nostalgia talking, I’m still incredibly fond of it. I really enjoy looking back on the toys from my childhood. They are, after all, the models that kicked off my passion for dinosaur toys in the first place, and that led to this blog. So, for that at least, we must thank Funrise, and it is about time this company got a look in at the Dinosaur Toy Blog.

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